Those who know me in person generally know that I greatly enjoy making friends even to the extent where I like there to be no reasonable excuse why someone doesn’t like me at least as a friendly acquaintance, even in cases where there are significant disagreements between me and someone else. To the greatest extent possible, I try to translate this friendliness into other sorts of communication that are less obvious. Naturally, it is easiest to recognize friendly intent in person (although some people aren’t particularly good at it), and least difficult to recognize friendly intent when only my words are seen without an understanding of tone and body language. Somewhere in between those two in terms of the obviousness of my friendliness is phone communication, where my tone of voice generally manages to convey a great deal of friendliness even when my body language cannot be seen.
Today I have pondered this subject in large part because of something that happened towards the end of the day at work. Though I am fairly new where I work, one of the people who is well-established has already recognized my voice as someone who frequently transfers calls to her, and stated an interest in getting to know me because I’ve already provided her with quite a few calls, which I took (rather happily) to be a sign of respect. By and large, as someone who tends to be more than a little bit of an outsider, I tend to view friendliness as a way of helping people to feel less fearful or defensive, and therefore helping them act in ways that allow me to feel less anxious and more accepted. As a person with high anxiety and high tendencies to feel like an outsider, friendliness with people in general, apart from any specific interests, is a way to provide a greater deal of cohesion within the largely unfamiliar territory that I find myself in over and over again, along with a way to reduce being misapprehended as a threat, which tends to make life more stressful.
Even though I am not always successful in this end (given the fact that some people are extremely suspicious and tend to expect a far greater amount of ulterior motives than really exists), by and large I have found that at least in my adulthood that generally people have responded with friendliness to getting to know me face to face, at least on a casual and somewhat superficial level. This does not mean that it has always been easy to find deep friendships, or that those who have not been able to see me face to face recognize the friendliness in writing that would be much more obvious in person or from hearing my voice on the phone or on skype, but for the most part those who are able to gain additional information have often been willing to do so when they have not been prejudiced against me. While it would be more enjoyable to live life without having to deal with such prejudices, it is generally enjoyable at least that things have gone as well as they have.
On what grounds can friendship be built and endure? If two people have fond feelings and respect for each other, such a friendship can be easily made and can endure a great deal of disagreement, because the respect will prevent the disagreements from reaching a level of being disagreeable. Mutually recognized respect and fondness is a fairly easy ground for friendship to be built, and being a person who is widely respectful and fond of others, at least I do my best not to destroy the bonds of friendship with those who are fond and respectful of me. A certain common worldview, whether it be an appreciation of wit and intellect, of books and music, or shared experiences that have powerfully shaped the way that we view life, is another way for deep friendships to be built and to endure upon a solid basis. I tend to think that the depths of my worldview and experiences are not likely to be shared with a wide group of people, since I often think myself to be more than a little eccentric, but the general contours of them do have connections with other people that often surprise me profoundly. Whenever common interests and common behaviors and a tendency to look fondly upon others (especially if we see evidence of their own goodwill towards us), then we can tell that we are going to find friends. I happen to enjoy that feeling a great deal.